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Sake

You Are Here: Sake Festival

One mid-February day each year, in the harsh cold of mid-winter, four sake breweries in the tiny town of Oyama open up their doors and invite people inside the cavernous spaces where the sake has been brewed and bottled for hundreds of years. Oyama, which is too small to warrant even a Wikipedia page, sits on the northwest coast of the island facing the Japan Sea. Its inhabitants, mostly construction workers, fisherman and artisans, spend most of winter collectively squinting west against winds which sail across from Siberia. But for the festival, locals and sake enthusiasts alike wait in fantastically long lines outside large, mostly empty buildings to exchange their vouchers for a small wooden box made of fragrant cedar, with Chinese characters etched into its sides. This box becomes your free pass and drinking vessel for as long as you can stand or see straight. Continue Reading…

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Longform: No Time for Stillness

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I left the town of Moscow, Idaho, under the cover of darkness and arrived in the city of Springfield, Missouri, with the sun shedding light on my thoughts of home.

The plane dove through the flatness of the clouds into the flatness of the Midwest, and Springfield sprawled out below with no mountains, gulches, or canyons to keep its suburbs from flooding the plain. Looking out the plane window I felt exposed like a bird over the ocean, with no place to rest its weary wings. I wanted to stay on the plane forever, hidden in the hollow bone, where I had conversations with strangers about where they were going and who they were seeing and they would ask me the same questions and I could give them any answer — their heads nodding in acceptance as if they have known me their entire lives. It is easier to accept the naïve nature of strangers for belonging than to confront the familiarity of alienation brought forward by my parents’ questions of why I can’t be still. To answer those questions is to remind them that after 20 years of living in America we are still foreigners. Continue Reading…

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The Golden Horn (4)

Somewhere in Istanbul

A bustling city that stretches across the tips of Europe and Asia, there is no doubt that Istanbul is truly one of a kind. It is a city where one can enjoy the comforts of a modern European experience coupled with the grace of Islamic heritage. I first visited Istanbul in 2011 and was stunned by the scale and beauty of the Sultanahmet Mosque. Ever since then, I have been returning from time to time, but little did I know that this city has so much more to offer.

The Golden Horn is a horn-shaped inlet of the Bosphorus that served as a natural harbor during the Byzantine and Ottoman period. Despite being a major tourist attraction, I often find myself back in this district, as it is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of Istanbul. Today, this ancient waterfront is buzzing with life; surrounded by parks, historical sites, and transportation hubs. During the day, a çay (Turkish tea) vendor will do his best business of the day, serving his brew in tulip-shaped glasses to the fishermen on the Galata Bridge, where the smell of fish permeates the air. Daily commuters will scurry past the crowd once they disembark from the ferry to the next tram station. If you are here in the evening, you will catch the jaw-dropping sunset of the Golden Horn as it plummets behind the Suleymaniye Mosque.

What I love most about this city is wandering the neighborhoods as layers of history unfold before me. While exploring the historical quarter of Balat, I find myself stepping back in time where life moves at a slower pace. Here you will find houses painted in vibrant colors, children playing football in the cobblestoned streets, and washing lines strung between buildings. As the sun goes down, the sound of the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes through the quaint back alleys leaving one with the sense of serenity to end the day.  The Golden Horn (2) Continue Reading…

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From the Magazine: Comforter

Though winter is sliding away from us, here’s one last blast of cold from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

 

Comforter

By Jenni Quilter

It is a word which I have learnt—a solitary word in a foreign language.
—E. M. Forster

In Bergen, at the market on the wharf, fox pelts hang from a corner of a tent like scarves. The pelts of the other animals are draped over racks and set out in front in order of size: reindeer, seal, sea lion. No one can resist stroking them as they walk by.

I had always thought reindeer imaginary creatures, like Santa Claus and unicorns, but here they are, in the tens, hundreds—dead, but oh so gentle and mild, I cannot stop stroking them as if they were alive, soothing them and me. Dad has to call to me, pull me out of reverie. Continue Reading…

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The Nostalgic Traveler: The Red Caboose

A scenic drive goes nowhere. This is part of its appeal. It cuts through space, and it crosses vast expanses, but it doesn’t connect towns or serve any real practical purpose: it exists to reveal landscape.

The Blue Ridge Parkway goes nowhere. This black ribbon of a road unwinds across fields and mountains. A road is a thing, but a drive is an activity, something undertaken.

White and brown signs mark the road’s entrances and exits. These signs depict the silhouette of a mountain and a tree whose branches unfold in tiers. The world as a cutout. These signs also outline a driver’s choice: NORTH or SOUTH. But neither direction seems to signify what lies ahead. Continue Reading…

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Longform: Narrow Rails

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On my way to Sonjoji temple, I sit on the Tokyo subway with dour-faced salarymen.

To reach the forest temples of Nikku, I hurtle 200 miles an hour across Honshu.

Click by click, a cog railway bears me to sacred Koya-San amid its mandala of mountains.

In search of ancient Japan — its Zen temples, manicured gardens and Buddhist priests muttering prayers in black robes — I find myself on trains.

On this afternoon, I am leaving Tokyo and its ultra-modernity for Takayama, an ancient town in the countryside. I travel by shinkansen. They call it a “bullet train,” and I wonder if that’s only because of its speed. Continue Reading…

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Somewhere in Salzburg

Last fall, Nowhere contributor Lanna Apisukh traveled to Salzburg, Austria to manage a video shoot for the music app, LISTEN. It didn’t take long before she was swept away by the charms of the city’s Old Town and the grandiose views from the Hohensalzburg castle.

Located just north of the Alps, Salzburg is well known to Europeans as a major skiing destination, but it’s also famous for being a very musical city.  It’s the birth home of classical music composer Mozart, the backdrop to The Sound of Music and headquarters of Sony Music DADC where CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs are manufactured.  Thus, it only seems natural to travel there and shoot a music app video whilst absorbing the town’s cultural history, chocolates and cured meats as inspiration, right?

DSCF4934 Continue Reading…

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From The Magazine: Botswana

Botswana

By Todd Pitock

The Makgadikgadi, a vast and flat saltpan in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, must be what the planet looked like before humanity appeared, and what it’ll look like after we’re gone. We’re riding quad bikes, the only means of transport on the soft saltpan, and as an environmental precaution we follow a single set of tracks that trace a line into the horizon—like a seam stitching the primordial and the post-apocalyptic.

When we break to eat, Ralph Bousfield, the man who led me here, says, “Now you understand that no matter what anyone ever tells you, the world really is flat. It’s totally, completely flat, and it’s an undeniable fact, as you can see.” Continue Reading…

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Found: Mug Shot

The Lone Sailor was my sole companion this past summer. I found him sitting by his lonesome self on a shelf in the break room of the seafood processing facility where I was working in Unalaska, Alaska, an island anchored in the middle of the Bering Sea. I was at the mid-point of my master’s degree, and decided I needed more nature and less noise. I got both, but also a decent dosage of solitude. For the first seven weeks, I had zero friends. I worked seven days a week until 5 p.m., which meant my evenings were open for activity, but there were few things to fill them. Unalaska might be the second largest Aleutian Island, but its size explains little. There is one grocery store, zero coffee shops, two Mormons, one gas station, a recreation center, and four taverns. And there are no stop lights and few animals, save seventeen wild horses brought there during World War II, a few overly-friendly foxes, and eight hundred bald eagles. I looked forward to my mornings when I could hold my coffee companion in hand for eight hours, because after work, it was just me, my shadow, a bottle of bourbon, and a bundle of books. The Lone Sailor was the only item I brought back from Unalaska, which makes perfect sense: we were soulmates. Continue Reading…

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Longform: Head Games

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THE MAN IN THE GARDEN told me he would not remember my name and now it is fitting, I suppose, to remember little about him but those few words and the curve of his skull. When I think of Budapest, I think of this night, and I think of his forehead.

He wore a thick black beanie, and it was only when he removed the hat — shifting his cigarette to another hand, leaning toward me in the lantern-light — that I saw the hole, a smooth crater above his right eyebrow, or maybe his left. I do not remember. This topography was both exhibit and apology. He told me he thought some of the memories he had lost had been good, but he could not remember. His accent was German and his voice was slow. Continue Reading…

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